Presvytera Maria Antokas is a former banker who now teaches Economics and Finance. She and her husband, Fr. Dimitrios Antokas, are currently serving St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Bethesda, Maryland. Presvytera Maria is also co-founder of CapitalWise, LLC, which is a financial coaching service for adults who need help organizing and understanding their personal finances. The company just published their first workbook entitled, Don't Call It a Budget - Personal Money Planning in the Age of Stuff Overload, which may be purchased at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
You did all the right things when you developed your financial plan. You stated your goals, you developed your budget, and you swore up and down that you would save a certain amount of money per month. But it didn’t happen. Your credit score is bad, you had to borrow money because you went into debt, and you just can’t seem to control your spending.
Following a financial plan is not easy. It takes perseverance, strength, time, and self-control. These personal qualities are very hard to develop and sustain. We all want so much out of life and subconsciously pursuing a “C’est la vie” attitude, though fun in the short-term, can quickly lead us into the wrong financial direction.
But then again, you only live once, right? Feeling guilty? Can’t decide whether you did something bad or just enjoying your precious time on earth? It’s a hard balance. You always hear stories about people who saved it all for retirement then dropped dead before they could enjoy it. Of course you don’t want that to happen to you so you spend it now – the boat, the flashy car, the house, the trips, the dinners out.
In your pursuit of happiness, you may be walking the road of bad financial decisions. You see the consequences when the bills come in and its time to pay the piper. You start beating yourselves up because although you knew better, you didn’t act responsibly.
I’m talking to you. This is the time to think about forgiveness. I don’t mean running to the bank and asking the manager to forgive all your loans, (good luck with that) but looking inwards and forgiving yourself. In debt forgiveness you are asking a lender to lower or eliminate a loan. In personal forgiveness, you are eliminating resentment, excusing your wrongdoings, letting go of the negatives.
We are all human and we all make mistakes. Here is what I recommend to move on-
1. Move On! I know its redundant because I just said it above, but seriously, don’t look back. Look forward. The only thing you should take from the past is your cash flow statement so you can track your old spending habits against the new spending rules you develop after you’ve created a new budget!
2. Its only money! Hopefully, you still have your health and a means to keep your income flowing. I remember what my wise old Aunt once said to me, “If you can flip a hamburger, you’ll always have a job.” Okay – when I was ten years old, I didn’t realize how deep that was but looking back, she was right.
3. Develop a relationship with a financial coach! Make sure that person is not a finger-wagger in the “I told you so” sense, but someone who you can call when you need to talk about your finances and your financial situation. Make sure that person is empathetic and knowledgeable. It always helps to talk things out. It’s even better when you listen to good advice.
4. Finally, in The Lord’s Prayer, you ask to be forgiven every time you say it, but remember the next line is where you ask not to be lead into temptation. If our faith tells us anything, its that we know we are all sinners, we all have the green light to forgive and move-on, but the message here is once you do, don’t be tempted again. You’ve now got your answer until the next time.
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